Friday, February 8, 2013

Kitchen Before: 1968

I'm chugging away toward my final kitchen reveal-- sewing curtains, hanging stuff on the walls, rearranging the countertops-- but I'll be honest with you, I need another weekend (Yes. This has been going on since August).

So, in the interest of a) not endlessly leading my readers on with excuses, and b) entertaining you while I stitch and bitch (I'm not a patient sewer), I thought I'd give you some "before" shots of the kitchen.

I did not take any before photos of the kitchen in 2011. Or not many. The idea for the blog hadn't hatched yet, and I wasn't thinking I needed to document what was a depressingly typical 30-year-old neglected kitchen: yellow formica counters that had bleach spots in some places, stains in others, and chunks out of the edges like someone tested their knives on it regularly; rust and smelly appliances; cupboards thick with decades of grime and dirt; limp curtains.

By the time I started paying attention to making a record of progress, my mother had already put hours into refinishing cupboards (for which I'm deeply and eternally grateful) and I had replaced the countertops with a somewhat retro-appropriate flecky laminate in earth tones. A crummy cell phone picture from those early days:

But I've got something better than "before" photos from 2011. I've got ones from....1968!

Take a look at this cute little kitchen window:

Notable details here:

The cute carved window fascia above the sink, and the quarter-round side shelves. Orange laminate! The plate rack above, and the collection of iron trivets on the wall. The dishwasher was a top loader-- that's what that appliance lid is to the right of the sink. The distant wall of the kitchen that you see here to the left, with the cupboards and refrigerator, doesn't exist in my kitchen anymore. That wall is gone, and it is now open to the present day eat-in area. What was was on the other side of that wall before?

A porch:

The photo above is from an older set of pictures, the New Year's Day snow storm of 1942. But the back door and window combo you see on the left led into a mudroom/cold-air porch area. The window to the right is the kitchen window shown in the interior 1968 shot above. The kitchen was a much cosier little place in 1942....and 1968.

The other end of the kitchen looked like this:

While I am not personally a fan of yellow, this yellow and gray scheme looks cheery and clean, doesn't it? I'm dying to know what color is on the floor. It looks like white and some color in a grid pattern. Dark Green? Dark Gray? I'd also love to get a closer look at those curtains. I think the fabric pattern is of teapots, but I'm not sure. Notice the trivet on the side of the oven? A "W"? Is that a clue? 

I adore the little bake center on the left--the cookbooks and the spice rack on the handy little shelf above the work area. Notice the stand mixer (covered with appliance cozy), the aluminum kitchen container set, and the decorative plates. 

The stove top on the far right is to the left of the sink in the previous photo, and there couldn't have been very much room between them. I also notice the air-conditioning unit permanently mounted under the window. That explains a patch in the siding on the exterior of the house! 

As a bonus, I also have a picture of the basement appliances: 

These are in the same place as my present day laundry room. I'm surprised by how simple and modern the washer and dryer look! The stove is not a surprise. Based on some other clues left around the house, I believe the lady of the house did her canning in the basement. This wasn't an uncommon way to beat the heat for this hot and steamy chore before there was central air conditioning. Believe me, there's nothing like canning 50 quarts of green beans on a 90 degree day in July in the Midwest. 

I'm not sure why these photos were taken-- possibly to sell the house, just like we do today? Perhaps the lady of the home was house proud, and just wanted to record her beautiful home for posterity? I don't know for sure, but I'm glad these came down through all the former owners to me. They've been fun, but also a great resource. I'll be sharing more as the year progresses. 


  1. Seriously that is AWESOME that you have so much documentation of your home from the past owners. People were so careful about what they photographed back then, that it is amazing you have this little still life of your house in pictures. I love it!

    And I'm totally excited for your big kitchen reveal!!!!!

  2. Oh, I am so envious! I would love to have old pictures like this of our house. Love the little teacups in the '68 photo, and the canisters in the one from '42. Can't wait to see what you've done with this space.

    1. Just to clarify, all the indoor photos are from '68. The outdoor one is from '42. I do love that I have these photos. They've given me so many clues to this house's past life.

  3. These photos are such a gem! They're utterly fascinating. Please post more.

    1. Hi, Alana. Thanks for commenting! I have posted some before now, here:

      and here:

      I'll be posting more as I get to each room renovation!